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It was only this past January when IDW Publishing announced that it would be producing a new line of X-Files comics. It had been almost five years since the release of Wildstorm's seven-issue series in 2008 and three years since their collaboration with IDW to produce the 30 Days of Night crossover. With a new series of post-I Want to Believe comics, it was time for the return of Mulder and Scully.
Then March came around and news broke that Chris Carter himself would be taking part in the new series. He took on the role of executive producer--after all, he is the god of The X-Files universe.
Slowly but surely, cover artwork and synopses started coming out. We sat down with Cover Artist Carlos Valenzuela and got a look at some of his amazing artwork. And here we are, day of the release of The X-Files: Season 10.
After sitting down to read Issue #1, here's what we at XFN think.
(This contains is a synopsis, so if you haven't read the issue yet, you will be spoiled.)
Since January 28th, we have been longing to pick up that first issue. With months of building anticipation, we couldn't wait to see what had become of our two favorite former FBI Agents. And we were not disappointed when we found out. The idea alone of seeing what Mulder and Scully have been up to since I Want to Believe is great. It's not just new X-Files comics, it's new X-Files.
The creative team at IDW has a lot to live up to; with 201 episodes and two movies, The X-Files is pretty well established. Issue #1, the opening of the five part "Believers" arc, certainly feels like an X-File. There is mystery and conspiracy, with a healthy dose of paranoia, and there are plenty of shadows to keep the truth just out of sight (Chris Carter must be so proud).
The issue opens just like the show used to: with a teaser and title sequence. We see Scully running from a group of shadowy, cloaked figures with glowing blue eyes (perhaps the "Believers" we've heard about?) only to be caught right before the title appears--a classic X-Files opening. We are then brought back to earlier in the day to find that Scully is still working diligently as a doctor, but under the name Dr. Dana Blake. Mulder is using "Anthony Blake", which is a clever reference back to the night that Samantha was abducted.
It's not clear why they're living under different names; however, it was the FBI that originally relocated the pair. Within the first few pages, Skinner, now a Deputy Director, comes to tell Mulder and Scully that someone recently hacked into the FBI's archives and may have obtained information that could put everyone associated with the X-Files at risk. Of course this was something that had just occurred, and Mulder and Scully were already well established in their alternate identities. We will have to wait to find out why they went back into hiding.
We also meet one of Scully's patients at the start of this issue. Her name is Emily. At first you might think that perhaps this was just to elicit the (painful) memory of Emily Sim, but then you meet her mother: Mrs. Van De Kamp. That makes it pretty clear that these names are in no way coincidences. But is that THE Mrs. Van De Kamp or someone related to her? Is this Emily another hybrid experiment? Where is Baby William? We do see a red-headed boy playing baseball when Mulder is first introduced into the story, but the boy's red hair is really the only thing unique about him. Thus far anyway.
So when Skinner brings the news that someone was after the information in the X-Files, Scully begins to worry that perhaps their son is the ultimate target. She and Mulder sit down and talk about William, much more than they did in the series. As you would expect, the scene is quite sad; some wounds even time cannot heal. Eventually, Scully leaves to go back to work, and we're left with a rather powerful image of Mulder standing alone, thinking about his son.
Scully never does make it to work, but before we continue following her storyline, we are introduced to one of Mulder's. Remember in the last film when Scully said, "Write it down, put it in a book"? Well Mulder took her up on that idea. About halfway through the issue, he sits in his office, properly decorated with the old IWTB poster, struggling to write 'I Want to Believe': A Memoir by Fox Mulder. (We'd like to know when we can pre-order our copy.)
This doesn't last long though, as Mulder is interrupted by a phone call from Skinner; he's in trouble. The group chasing Scully at the start of the issue is after Skinner first. He has difficulty talking, his nose starts bleeding, and then he is suddenly surrounded by the people in cloaks.
When Mulder finally gets to him, we see the dark image of Skinner's body hanging from the hotel ceiling, backlit by light streaming through the blinds. Mulder arrived in time to save him, but what transpired wasn't very clear. "I was compromised...They were in my head," is about all Skinner can recall. The creative team certainly achieved the dark vibe they were aiming for here.
Meanwhile, Scully arrives outside of her office building. She goes to open the door when someone behind her says, "Hi, Dr. Scully". It's Emily, but Emily only knows her as Dr. Blake. When Scully asks who told her that name, Emily points to to a group of people wearing hooded black cloaks. Scully instinctively tries to protect Emily, standing in front of her. That's when Scully sees that one of those cloaked individuals is in fact Mrs. Van De Kamp, glowing eyes and everything.
When Scully reaches for the gun at her hip, she finds it missing and turns just in time to see Emily, eyes clouded pitch black, pointing it at her. A gun shot rings out and blood gushes from a bullet wound on Scully's arm. Emily's eyes return to normal: "Can't you help us all?"
Scully's only option left is to run. So she does. She desperately tries to get a hold of the FBI, but her phone signal is being blocked by whoever is after her (or maybe she just has AT&T).
The attackers catch up to Scully and swarm around her while Emily watches on, her eyes lost in the shadows. That is when one of the coolest things in this issue happens. What is even better is that you don't actually see it happen. You only see shadows. Emily's small, child-sized shadow shows her watching Scully's attack. But the shadow grows larger and changes into that of a cloaked adult's before a blinding blue light bursts from where Emily had just been.
The attackers scatter and the owner of the shadow approaches Scully. At the same time, Skinner and Mulder are realizing that it isn't their lives that are in danger; it's Scully's.
Emily shooting Scully was certainly not a twist we expected to happen. And what about her eyes being black? Could this be tied to the black oil, or is it something else entirely? Why does Emily shoot Scully and then how does she transform into someone else? What is Mrs. Van De Kamp doing with glowing blue eyes and a bunch of secretive cloaked men? Who are these secretive cloaked men? Why are they after Scully? If this is the Mrs. Van De Kamp, what has happened to William?
Questions. We have so many questions. And somewhere in the world, Chris Carter is sitting back and reveling in our confusion. Where is Issue #2?
With Mulder's lines, Joe Harris hits the nail on the head. The sarcasm and wit that so easily flowed from Mulder in the show have been translated seamlessly into Issue #1. Even his more serious lines flow well. Your mind will read them in Mulder's voice:
That's all very compelling and, despite my calm demeanor, I assure you I feel suitably aggrieved.
The enigmatic Dr. Scully, or rather the enigmatic Dr. Blake, commands her usual presence, though there are moments when it is harder to hear her voice come through in the lines. As of this point, we would probably say that Harris has a clearer sense of Mulder's voice than Scully's; however, this is only the first (of hopefully many) issues. It can take a while to ease into a character. Joe Harris is, on top of everything else, a major X-Files fan, so we're not worried.
The now promoted Deputy Director Skinner is, like always, on top of and in charge of things. Just as in I Want to Believe, he comes to help when needed. It looks like he will be playing a big part in this arc, and we're looking forward to seeing him.
Michael Walsh's artwork has a more classic, old school style to it. It also has a bit of a grittier feel, which will likely fit in well given that we've already begun to see the darker side of these comics. You may also notice a good sense of movement in many areas (like Mulder with the baseball) which helps to bring some realism to the comic, instead of just having the images remain flat. Michael can certainly capture the likeness of the characters, and there are a few panels of Mulder that we found particularly noteworthy, the one below among them.
There are times when perhaps Mulder is better represented than Scully. However, there are some great close ups of her face, like the one above which really captures her emotions well. We all came to know that look during Season 8.
Michael and Jordie Bellaire did a particularly good job of channeling the darkness surrounding the mysterious cloaked individuals. The shadows and coloring are really well done when we see them chase after Scully. In true Chris Carter fashion, things are hidden just out of sight in the shadows. On the whole, the coloring in this comic is less vivid than what we've seen in past X-Files comics. There is simply a different style used here, one that will perhaps lend itself to the darker themes of future issues.
On another note, is Scully wearing a mini skirt in the doctor's office? Because it kind of looks like she is. We're talking about a woman who waited seven years to kiss her partner, and even that was initiated by Mulder. Her skirt lengths are always professional. What would Maggie Scully think? And if Skinner follows Scully back to the house, when does she have time to change into pants? We smell a conspiracy...
We should also mention the eight--yes eight--variant covers for this issue. There is some really incredible cover art, and if you just have to have them all, this article should point you in the right direction.
The Small Details
Scully's cross. Mulder's poster. There are certain things that must always be included in The X-Files. In this issue, you will notice some really great small details that harken back to IWTB and The X-Files. We particularly appreciated the cell phones--Scully's Blackberry and Skinner's iPhone--and what appears to be a Ford Taurus parked outside of the Blake residence. These are things that only fans would notice and appreciate. It's a good thing that Joe and Michael are actual X-Files fans. It only makes the comics better.
We have been waiting for these comics since January. The anticipation kept building and building, and Issue #1 lived up to some very high expectations. Season 10 isn't just an adaptation of The X-Files; like its name implies, it attempts to be a worthy continuation of the series. We are really pleased with what we have seen so far. The "Believers" storyline is intriguing and there are some important tie-ins to the show's mythology that have us anxious to see what happens next.
It is clear that the creative team behind these comics has great respect for the history of The X-Files and its fanbase. We highly recommend that you pick up a copy of Issue #1.
So turn on some Mark Snow, burrow into your favorite chair, and take a look at what Mulder and Scully have been up to.
The X-Files: Season 10 is available in stores today.